The second edition of the Africa Regional Integration Index (ARII) is a joint publication of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) .
The African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank are proud to present the second edition of the Africa Regional Integration Index . The timing could not be better with the recent endorsement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by more than 50 African countries . AfCFTA creates the largest free trade zone in the world, with a combined GDP of over USD 3 .3 trillion and a population of more than 1 .2 billion people . Breaking down tariff barriers alone will spur trade by at least 53% while the elimination of non-tariff barriers could double intra-African trade .
Africa’s economic growth is projected to exceed 4% in 2019-2020, an increase from 3 .5% in 2018 . Spurred by AfCFTA, more than 40% of African countries are projected to post growth of at least 5% this year as commodity prices rise and domestic demand and infrastructure investments boost growth.
This then leads us to the importance of regional integration and the Africa Regional Integration Index . To reach or exceed growth targets, Africa needs greater integration . Regional integration is indispensable for factor connectivity, investment flows and value creation . Whether connecting landlocked countries to ports or ICT portals, from household to warehouses across the continent, connectivity is the chain link that characterises the economy of the 21st century . Africa must forge ahead with these trends and lead where appropriate.
For our continent, that means not just the movement of people, goods and services within our member nations, but data transmission to allow for the flow of information and tools needed for higher value- added . These dual components of industrialisation and value addition are critical in creating wealth .
For free trade to happen seamlessly, African countries need to implement the Protocol on the Free Movement of People, which will in turn enable traders and investors to operate beyond their national borders . Africa must trade more with itself . And as markets trade on information, we need to move in the direction of connecting people and companies with data platforms and information to facilitate trade, investment, and promote the continent’s economic development and welfare .
There is much to be said about the considerable investments being made in Africa in anticipation of future growth . Across the continent, we are seeing investments in power generation, transmission and distribution improving access to power for businesses and households . Roads and bridges, rail networks as well as new and improved airports will help to move goods and connect passenger and business traffic . Ports are being upgraded to enhance maritime exchange . We are doing all this sustainably — promoting a cleaner environment, and strengthening water basin management.
Read the full report here.